Best Community Colleges in Kansas
Two-year colleges can be a great waystation on your educational journey, whether you're looking to learn a new set of career skills or hoping to take a few courses on your way to one of the hundreds of degree programs at Kansas universities. More than two dozen community and technical colleges are available to students in the Jayhawk State, and the right degree or certificate program for you is out there waiting to be discovered.
Of the state's two-year schools, 19 are part of the public community college system. Overall, nearly 70,000 students are enrolled in classes at these institutions. Residents choose these schools for many reasons, including their affordable tuition rates. On average, in-district students pay only $1,580 for a 15-credit semester at Kansas community colleges, according to the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees. That's a significant savings compared to the $4,202 charged, on average, at the state's other public schools.
Knowing which institutions are the best community colleges in Kansas can help you make sure that you're choosing the right school. We gathered data from the National Center for Education Statistics and crunched the numbers to sort the top Kansas community colleges from the rest — check out our list of the ten best below.
Allen County Community College (Iola)
Around 40 associate degree programs are on offer at Allen Community College, including an Associate of General Studies (A.G.S.) program that's designed to provide a personal enrichment-oriented alternative to conventional degree plans. Allen has held classes at its main campus in Iola since 1970 and a secondary location opened in Burlingame in 1991.
The array of distance education offerings available at Allen earns it a spot among the top online community colleges in Kansas. The institution provides a range of online courses that can either be added into a campus-based study plan or used to earn your entire degree online.
Whether they attend campus-based or online courses, Allen students can get whatever help they need with their academic writing. The Iola campus maintains a brick-and-mortar writing center, and an online writing lab (OWL) is available during and after hours for online students.
Dodge City Community College (Dodge City)
Known as DC3 to many, Dodge City Community College has been educating areas students since 1935. The school offers degrees and certificates in eight broad categories.
Some of the programs at DC3, such as the associate degree in agriculture, are intended for those who plan to transfer credits and pursue a bachelor's degree at a four-year school. Others are technical and vocational programs that are designed to provide skills that will have students career-ready after graduation. A flight instructor program and welding certificate are two examples of the school's vocational training options.
Distance learners can take online or hybrid courses at Dodge City Community College. Plus, high school students are welcome to start their college career early through the school's dual credit and concurrent enrollment program.
Johnson County Community College (Overland Park)
Head to Johnson County Community College for an education backed by 50 years of experience and student success. The school was founded in 1969 and has since developed a reputation for small class sizes, competitive tuition rates and diverse academic offerings.
JCCC has more than 50 degree and certificate programs available, and nearly a dozen of these can be earned entirely online. The college maintains transfer agreements with more than 25 regional colleges and universities and that can make it easy for students earning transfer degrees to continue their education at a four-year school.
The college has a popular certified nursing assistant program and is home to the National Academy of Railroad Sciences. Other technical training programs cover fields such as accounting, cosmetology and criminal justice.
Butler Community College (El Dorado)
Students who want the experience of a bustling campus and a large cohort of fellow learners may want to give extra consideration to Butler Community College, where the enrollment headcount was is more than 12,000. This El Dorado institution was founded in 1927 and offers more than 110 degree and certificate programs, including online degrees in accounting, secondary education and liberal arts.
A few of the initiatives in force at Butler show that it's committed to helping students achieve their college goals. It maintains close to 35 articulation agreements with Kansas colleges and universities and offers certain study plans through its Early College Academy program, allowing high school students to earn college credit.
Around 13,000 residents live in El Dorado proper, but students who want access to a big city in their downtime won't be disappointed. Wichita, with its population of nearly 450,000, is just 30 miles away.
Highland Community College (Highland)
By far the oldest institution on our list of the best Kansas community colleges, Highland Community College was first chartered as Highland University in 1858. While the institution's name has changed seven times over the years, its mission of providing quality higher education to the people of northeast Kansas has remained steadfast throughout.
Approximately 3,000 students attend courses here, primarily at the main Highland campus but also at 5 regional locations. Close to 50 concentration areas are available for students pursuing academic degrees, as well as more than a dozen technical education programs.
The growing demand for online schools hasn't escaped HCC, either — students can use distance education to fulfill individual course requirements or earn an entire degree. General A.A. and A.S. degrees are available online, as well as A.A.S. programs in business, criminal justice, personal training and more.
Barton County Community College (Great Bend)
More than 15,000 students attend classes at Barton Community College each year. The school was founded in 1969 and today offers its programs at four campus locations. Online programs and courses are also available for distance learners.
Barton offers four associate degrees and three levels of certificates. Some certificates require as little as 16 credits for completion. In total, the school's degrees and certificates cover dozens of fields of study, and they are broken down into two categories: academic programs and career programs and training. Popular options include welding, emergency medical services education and nursing.
As one of the best Kansas community colleges, Barton has a number of student support services. These include a career center, academic advising and access to tutoring, counseling and disability services.
Cloud County Community College (Concordia)
The main campus of Cloud County Community College is located in Concordia, but it works to make its courses and degree programs available to residents of all 12 counties in its service area in northern central Kansas. The institution maintains nearly 30 satellite learning sites, including a robust second campus in Junction City.
Degrees available at CCCC include cutting-edge Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree plans in unmanned aircraft systems and wind energy technology, as well as numerous specialties in agricultural production and services. A variety of online courses are available as well, for students who need some additional schedule flexibility.
The campus has also taken steps to meet some of its energy needs with renewable power. CCCC maintains a small wind farm south of campus and relies on geothermal energy to power its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Neosho County Community College (Chanute)
Neosho County Community College prides itself on being one of the best community colleges in Kansas in terms of student success, and the numbers show that it does its part to make sure its students' educational needs are met. The average class size here is just 13 students, for example, and the student-faculty ratio is 12:1.
The annual NCCC budget also indicates a high priority on student success. A recent fiscal report shows that classroom instruction and student services made up fully half of the year's expenditures, and more than 10 percent of spending went to student scholarships and other awards.
NCCC students can also complete the requirements for numerous degree and certificate programs exclusively through online classes. Its catalog of more than 30 distance programs makes it one of the most prolific online community colleges in Kansas. Nursing, HVAC and welding are a few of the popular fields of study offered at NCCC.
Kansas City Kansas Community College (Kansas City)
Drawing students from both Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City Kansas Community College is another of the top two-year schools in the state. More than 5,000 people take classes at the college, and two-thirds of the student body is enrolled on a part-time basis.
KCKCC takes pride is its small class sizes and its approachable faculty members. Programs at the school are broken down into five academic divisions and include both transfer degrees and career technical education options. In addition to popular subjects like nursing, automotive technology and carpentry, KCKCC has programs in niche fields such as mortuary science and biomanufacturing.
The college has its campus in Kansas City, but online and hybrid courses are also available. High school students may be able to enroll in KCKCC early thanks to the Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Program.
Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson)
Hutchinson Community College admitted its first class of fewer than 200 students in 1928 and it's grown in leaps and bounds since then. Today, the institution maintains a pair of off-campus sites in the cities of Newton and McPherson to help educate its student body of more than 5,500 learners per semester.
Students at HCC have more than 75 areas of study from which to choose. The catalog contains academic degrees in science, math and the humanities as well as career-focused programs in subjects like industrial technology, healthcare, education and agriculture.
The city of Hutchinson has a resident population of around 40,000, making it a great size for a college town. It also features a unique attraction for museum lovers: the Cosmosphere, a space and science center that was chosen as one of the first affiliate sites of the Smithsonian Institution.
CTE in Kansas
Top community colleges in Kansas are among the biggest providers of career technical education (CTE) in the state. While academic degrees include general education requirements, CTE programs are focused exclusively on preparing students to enter a specific industry or occupation.
CTE in Kansas is structured to follow the National Career Clusters Framework. This system divides occupations into 16 career clusters that include 79 different career pathways. Each career cluster represents an area of interest such as agriculture, health science or education, and the pathways guide students to specific occupations within that career cluster. The use of career clusters and pathways can make the process of exploring jobs and degree options more manageable.
Since many in-demand careers require CTE training, the State of Kansas passed Senate Bill 155 in 2012 to encourage high school students to consider career technical education. It created the following incentives, among others:
- Excel in CTE rewards high schools for every student they graduate with an industry-recognized certification in a high-need occupation.
- Schools may receive transportation reimbursement for transporting students to off-campus sites for the purpose of completing college-level CTE courses.
- Students may be eligible for tuition reimbursement if enrolled in college-level CTE courses.
Each of the best community colleges in Kansas should have information about CTE programs available on their website or through an admissions adviser. You can also read more about CTE in Kansas at the following links:
- Career Clusters and Pathways - The Kansas State Department of Education maintains information career clusters and pathways along with other CTE documents.
- Excel in CTE - For more details about the Excel in CTE initiative and other workforce training programs, visit The Kansas Board of Regents.
Transferring Credits in Kansas
Community college can be a great springboard into a university program, especially for aspiring bachelor's graduates who want to save some money on the first two years of college. If you're thinking about taking this route through school, it's good to be aware of the programs and agreements that can help Kansas students make the switch after finishing their associate degree.
The farthest-reaching of such initiatives affects college students statewide, whether they're transferring out of community college or from one two-year school to another. The Kansas Board of Regents maintains a list of courses that have been approved for seamless transfer to any of the seven universities and 25 community and technical colleges overseen by the Board, provided the destination school offers an equivalent course.
More specific programs are in force at individual Kansas colleges and universities, such as the numerous articulation agreements that Kansas Wesleyan University holds with regional community colleges. Individual two-year schools may also have specific transfer programs that you can use to your advantage — check with your adviser to learn more. Or read our guide on how to transfer schools learn more about how transfer agreements work in general.
Resources for Community College Students in Kansas
- Kansas Association of Community College Trustees - On its website, KACCT compiles Kansas community college statistics and provides links to all 19 schools in the system.
- The Kansas Board of Regents - This body oversees higher education in Kansas. It offers students information on education initiatives, financial aid and transfer agreements.
- KSDegreeStats - This interactive tool makes it easy to see how degree programs from different schools compare when it comes to cost and wage information.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:
- Level of institution is either "At least 2 but less than 4 years" or " Less than 2 years (below associate)"
- Data is reported for all 14 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
We ranked the resulting community colleges member schools on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services. Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following data points:
- The published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
- Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
- Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.
- Kansas Community College Facts and Statistics, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, Accessed December 2019, https://www.kacct.org/statistics
- About, Dodge City Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://dc3.edu/about/
- About JCCC, Johnson County Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://www.jccc.edu/about/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed December 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- About Barton, Barton Community College, December 2019, https://www.bartonccc.edu/aboutbarton
- Out Students, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://www.kckcc.edu/about/our-students/index.html
- SB 155, Kansas State Department of Education, Accessed December 2019, https://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Career-Standards-and-Assessment-Services/CSAS-Home/Career-Technical-Education-CTE/Initiatives/Senate-Bill-155
- School pages, accessed July 13-16, 2018: About Us, Independence Community College, http://www.indycc.edu/about-us/index; Career and Technical, Independence Community College, http://www.indycc.edu/areas-of-study/career-and-technical/index; Fab Lab, Independence Community College, http://www.indycc.edu/about-us/fablab/index; Programs, Cloud County Community College, http://www.cloud.edu/Academics/Fields-of-Study/index; About CCCC, Cloud County Community College, http://www.cloud.edu/About/index; CCCC Wind Farm, Cloud County Community College, http://www.cloud.edu/About/CCCC-Wind-Farm/index; Online, Cloud County Community College, http://www.cloud.edu/Academics/Online/index; About Allen, Allen Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/about-allen; Academics, Allen Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/academic; History of Allen, Allen Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/about-allen/history-of-allen; Fall 2018 Online Courses, Allen Community College, https://accchp.allencc.net/cgi-bin/schedule.cgi?webframe=N&showpurch=N&dept=ALL&sess=FA&yr=2018&instr=ALL&mdays=ALL&btime=ALL&campus=onl&tb=Border%3D0&submit=++++GO%21++++; Writing Center, Allen County Community College, https://www.allencc.edu/index.php/current-students2/writing-center/49-student-services/student-services/355-owl; History, Stats & Highlights, Hutchinson Community College, http://www.hutchcc.edu/discover/history-stats-and-highlights; Courses of Study, Hutchinson Community College, http://www.hutchcc.edu/academics/curriculum-categories-expanded; Online Education, Hutchinson Community College, http://www.hutchcc.edu/administration/online-education/; General Information, Highland Community College, https://highlandcc.edu/pages/general-HCC; Online Degrees, information; Highland Community College, https://highlandcc.edu/pages/hcc-online-degrees; Campus Profile, Neosho County Community College, https://www.neosho.edu/ProspectiveStudents/Admissions/CampusProfile.aspx; Online Campus, Neosho County Community College, https://www.neosho.edu/ProspectiveStudents/WelcometoNCCC/Campuses/OnlineCampus.aspx; Distance Education Programs Offered at NCCC, Neosho County Community College, https://www.neosho.edu/Portals/0/Campus_pics/DistanceEd-DegreesCertificates.pdf; About, Fort Scott Community College, http://www.fortscott.edu/About; Academics, Fort Scott Community College, http://www.fortscott.edu/academics; Emergency Medical Technician, Fort Scott Community College, http://www.fortscott.edu/sites/default/files/PDFs/EMT.pdf; About Us, Coffeyville Community College, https://www.coffeyville.edu/about-us; Fast Facts, Coffeyville Community College, https://www.coffeyville.edu/about-us/fast-facts; Academics, Coffeyville Community College, https://www.coffeyville.edu/academics; Question: Is Coffeyville Community College Affordable?, Coffeyville Community College, https://www.coffeyville.edu/student-services/ccc-affordability; About, Butler Community College, https://www.butlercc.edu/about; Butler by the Numbers, Butler Community College, https://www.butlercc.edu/info/20005/about/606/butler-by-the-numbers; Early College Academies, Butler Community College, https://www.butlercc.edu/academies; About PCC, Pratt Community College, http://prattcc.edu/department/about-pcc; Why Choose PCC, Pratt Community College, http://prattcc.edu/about-pcc/why-choose-pcc; History of PCC Nursing, Pratt Community College, http://www.prattcc.edu/nursing/history-pcc-nursing; Articulation Agreements by College (A-M), Kansas Wesleyan University, http://www.kwu.edu/future-students/admissions/transfer-students/articulation-agreements-by-college-a-m; Community College Transfer Guides, University of Kansas, https://admissions.ku.edu/transfer-requirements-deadlines/cc-transfer-guides; Transfer Agreements, Butler Community College, https://www.butlercc.edu/info/201125/transfer-information/183/transfer-agreements;
- About, The Cosmosphere, accessed July 13, 2018, http://cosmo.org/about/
- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed July 16, 2018: Hutchinson city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/hutchinsoncitykansas/PST045217; Fort Scott city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/fortscottcitykansas/PST045217; El Dorado city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/eldoradocitykansas/PST045217;
- The Aspen Institute, accessed July 16, 2018: Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, http://highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize/; About Us, https://highered.aspeninstitute.org/about/;
- Kansas Board of Regents, accessed July 13, 2018: About, https://www.kansasregents.org/about; Transfer & Articulation, https://www.kansasregents.org/transfer_articulation; Public Institutions (Accessible List), https://www.kansasregents.org/universities_colleges/public_institutions/public_institutions_accessible_list
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/